Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, has unveiled his new foreign policy team, stacked with some of the most aggressive hawks imaginable, saying they are a group of his “trusted friends” who believe in a “strong America.”
At the center of his team is neoconservative ultra-hawk Frank Gaffney, a loudly anti-Muslim figure who believes in a wild array of conspiracies, including that a number of top political figures from both parties of being part of a secret Muslim cabal plotting the conquest of America.
Gaffney had previously been speculated to be a Trump adviser, as his dubious work has been cited by that candidate repeatedly in trying to back up his proposals to ban Muslim immigration. Gaffney’s overt hostility toward Muslims in general made him a virtual pariah during the 2012 campaign. Incredibly, a number of Republican hopefuls have courted him this time around, with Cruz declaring him “clear-eyed” and “a patriot.”
Also featuring prominently in the Cruz team is Michael Ledeen, the man at the center of the yellowcake uranium forgeries, among the pretexts for the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq. Ledeen has been involved in a litany of scandals, dating all the way back to Iran-Contra. He was also, notably, the man who got Israeli spy Jonathon Pollard his job at the US Navy.
Of course speaking of Iran-Contra, one must inevitably discuss Elliott Abrams, who famously pled guilty to two charges of withholding information related to the scandal from Congress, and is likewise a central player in the new Cruz team. In addition to the Contra scandal, Abrams was involved in myriad ugly Reagan-era operations, and was a close ally of both former presidents Bush, receiving a pardon for his Reagan-era crimes by George H.W. Bush, and being appointed as a special adviser to George W.
During his tenure with the later Bush, Abrams was accused by The Guardian of being at the center of a failed 2002 US-backed coup attempt against Venezuela, and was said to have personally given the go-ahead for the effort.
Abram’s most recent media comments, interestingly enough, were railing against Cruz, accusing him of being anti-semitic for even using the term “neocon.” Now that Cruz is establishing himself as the neocon candidate of choice, that allegation has been quickly brushed aside.
With this team and more, Cruz is surrounding himself with warmongers and criminals of the highest caliber. While the attempt appears to center on making him a more straightforward Republican insider, to serve as a counter to Trump, the jingoist and xenophobic policies these advisers portend also threatens to sabotage any hope he has of presenting himself as a safer alternative.